It’s a bit of a cliché now to say “everything has changed” in 2020. But, let’s face it, a lot of what we deemed normal has been transformed — perhaps forever.
In such an environment, where do dating, sex, and romance fit in? Existing couples have had their share of challenges. It is a completely different story for those who are not yet partnered up.
The rules have definitely changed. Actually, the rules keep changing! So, how in the world does a single person navigate dating in the age of social distancing?
COVID-19 Dating Risk Factors
Yes, we know, there seem to be new guidelines every day. That is how the scientific method works. You continue gathering information even if that means you have to recalibrate your conclusions. That said, here are some possible factors to keep in mind when pondering a date:
- It may be possible for someone to have the virus but not know it. An asymptomatic person can still spread COVID-19.
- Being within six feet of someone who coughs, sneezes, or even speaks can be a very high-risk behavior.
- If kissing is on your mind, remember that you can be infected with COVID-19 via the saliva or breath of a person who has it.
These guidelines do not even touch on emotional contagion. The year 2020 has been ground zero for anxiety. What was once as simple as swiping right on a dating app is now fraught with apprehension. In terms of romance (in all its forms), there’s a whole lot to consider in the midst of a global pandemic.
New Rules of Engagement in the Age of Social Distancing
1. Identify Your Intentions
It begins by honestly answering a basic question: Am I ready to date now? If the answer is yes, you can then explore your intentions as they will appear on a dating app profile, e.g. type of relationship you’re looking for and how long would you need to chat before considering an in-person meet-up.
2. Set Your Boundaries
To be even more clear, it is your right to decide how far you are willing to go and it is respectful of your partner’s time and energy as well. This does not just apply to sexual behavior. These days, it could mean a text-only situation until the global situation becomes less foggy. The key here is to know your own mind and determine what’s appropriate and comfortable for you. Then, go about kindly (and firmly) communicating that to your dating partner while hearing them out as well.
3. Plan Ahead for Intimacy
This is a good idea with or without a pandemic. Clarify to yourself and to the other person what you feel comfortable with in terms of intimacy. Be as specific as you need to be. From setting limits on certain acts to laying the groundwork for practicing safe sex, leave nothing to chance.
4. Embrace New Possibilities
Here’s where the negative can turn into something very positive. Prior to March 2020, we all followed some variation of the standard dating theme. Now, however, circumstances have conspired to leave room for previously unexplored options for connection. Who knows? We may come out of this with a whole new set of exciting dating norms!
New Situations Call for New Approaches
Not one person among us is fully certain how to safely proceed with life in 2020. There is no shame in feeling confused and maybe even lost. That makes it all the more appropriate to reach out for professional guidance.
For many, therapy is something you seek in response to a mental health condition. This is partially true. However, counseling is just as effective whenever you face times of struggle, change, confusion, or turmoil. Is that not the definition of 2020?
So, if you wish to date but can’t find a way that feels right for you, ask for help. I’m here to help. Read more about couples counseling and contact me for an online consultation. It could make all the difference in whether you find a worthwhile connection in the age of social distancing.